Alright, so if we want to keep acne at bay, and also have a beautiful, healthy looking complexion, we want the following:
- Skin that is balanced in oil – ie. not too dry or too oily
- Skin that is properly hydrated – ie. contains plenty of water
Skin that is too dry can tighten pores and cause them to become restricted and irritated, and cause your skin produce more clogged pores and breakouts.
Same with dehydrated skin, with the added benefit that it makes your skin look aged like a prune.
Skin that is too oily can get sticky, oxidized and also clog your pores and lead to acne.
So here’s what what you want to do:
Use an Oil to Balance Oil Production
As much as oily people, in particular, don’t want to put more oil on their faces… oils are absolutely the best, most natural, and most nourishing moisturizer for the skin.
After all, healthy skin has a healthy amount of oil. That’s what makes it function properly and look great.
Oil is not the enemy, and the good news it that oil can be used to your advantage to balance everything out and stop those breakouts!
Whether you’re oily or dry, it’s only a matter of choosing the best oil for your skin type.
There is a lot to say on the topic of which oil is best, but to ease you temporarily… hemp seed or jojoba are good for oily skin, argan is a great option for dry.
If your skin is oily, moisturizing with an oil will replace some of your own damaged, oxidized sebum (which may be damaged due to internal factors like hormones or stress or diet, or external things like sunburn, pollution etc) with a healthier, less comedogenic alternative.
This will strengthen the skin barrier function, and better prevent your skin from losing water.
If you moisturize with oil, and in tandem you stop using harsh face washes that strip your skin of water and oil, it will signal to your skin that you already have enough oil.
After your skin has gotten used to this routine, it should stop overproducing oil, and also be way less acne prone.
And obviously if your skin is dry (lacking oil), then adding more oil to find a balance makes perfect sense.
Keeping Water in the Skin
So here’s the trick…
Whether your skin is oily or dry, it can still be dehydrated.
In order for your skin to properly exfoliate itself, it needs water. If the cells are not properly hydrated, they can not push dead skin cells or other junk in the pore up and out.
Instead everything will compact in there, the pore will clog, eventually leading to acne or redness.
It will also accentuate any “fine lines” and accelerate aging.
This is why a strong skin barrier function is important (with the right amount of healthy oil in it), because without it, water in the skin can easily evaporate out.
So what you want to do when you moisturize is introduce water to the skin and let it absorb, and then have the oil lock it in.
My Tips on Properly Moisturizing
- Apply your oil to damp or wet skin. The skin sucks up moisture when you’re in a humid environment, so let your skin soak up the water and then keep it there with the oil. I let my skin air dry after applying.
- You probably only need a couple drops of straight oil for your whole face. You can use more if your skin is quite dry. Either way, the oil should be pretty much completely absorbed within a half hour. If it just sits there on top of your skin forever, you used too much, or it’s not the right oil for your skin type.
- Applying oil at the end of a shower is a very ideal moisturizing time, since a shower is a very humid environment. But remember that long hot showers will suck moisture out of your skin, so turn the temp down and keep your face out of the direct stream.
- If you refuse to be without a super hot shower (I get it), then at least don’t put your face in the stream, and then turn the temp down to luke warm at the end to wash your face
- It can be a challenge to keep your skin hydrated if you live in a very dry climate, or spend your time in dry indoor winter air. If it’s really bad, you might invest in a humidifier.
- For the most part, washing your face with water and not moisturizing after isn’t the best idea especially if you are prone to dry dehydrated skin. Water is very drying on its own, because as it evaporates off your skin, it takes more with it!
- Consider mixing your oil with a humectant like aloe vera gel. Humectants pull moisture into your skin from the surrounding environment.
- Don’t sabotage your moisturizing efforts by using a harsh cleansing face wash that strips your skin of water and oil. There are many options for better alternatives, but an awesome one is smooth raw honey. It’s also a mild humectant!
Along with balancing oil production and locking in moisture, moisturizers are also an ideal vessel for bringing tons of healing ingredients into your skin such as antioxidants and herbal essential oils.
And by making your own, you can pack as much acne healing goodness as you can into one product, without all the junky fillers and chemicals that are typically in formulated skin care products (some of which can definitely sabotage your clear skin efforts).
As I mentioned before, I have been having so much fun messing around with DIY skin care stuff, especially making my perfect moisturizer.
Next week we’ll go over which oils are best for which skin type and how to choose.
And after that, I’ll share with you my acne free moisturizer recipe! The base recipe is incredibly easy to make with minimal ingredients (ie. just two)
From there, you can start experimenting with adding more and more healing ingredients as you wish to make it fully customized!
See you next week!
Tracy, this is so true! My skin is so much more balanced now that I use oil to cleanse and moisturize. I refuse to give up my extra hot shower, but I make it quick and keep my face away from the really hot water. I gently pat oil all over my face when I get out. I use different oils day to day…I have some wonderful blends, but sometimes use straight coconut, argan, or rose hip. I’m turning 50 in a few days and my skin has never looked or felt better. Love all the practical advice you give…thank you!
Hi Elizabeth..very glad to hear things are looking and feeling so good 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Thanks for the information! It’s interesting, as a student some 15 years ago, I worked as a cosmetics seller in a big department store…and of course, our goal was to sell as much as possible. But already then, I intuitively knew…something wasn’t quite right. Almost like my soul was screaming (and wanted to say that to the customers too!) that don’t waste your money to these silicone-y products…go outside, be happy, sleep well, that’s what makes skin better! 😀
Also interesting what you say Elizabeth…I think I’ve become so brainwashed by the cosmetics industry…like now (especially when I just turned 40 years) I should use more products, all the lotions and potions and serums and creams…there’s almost this unconscious fear that my skin will age more rapidly if I don’t. But the truth is, I’ve done all that and my skin is just worse! 🙁
I really became inspired, to start a much more simpler routine now with the oils like you write in this post! 🙂
What skin conditions are you concerned with?
I have mostly hormonal acne. The rest of the month my skin can be pretty ok. But with pms, it feels EVERY pore in my skin is blocked, pimples and skin feels very unpleasant. Pimples or not, my skin is pale, “snow white”, delicate and thin and always very shiny and oily. It is at the same time dry and shiny, very annoying! After washing face/taking off make up, skin feels painfully tight and dry and there´s a “must” to use moisturiser…and very soon my skin is shiny/oily again!
I´ve used over a decade ordinary moisturisers and make up and learned from Tracy what horrors they do to skin! 🙁 I had no idea…always thought I was “taking care” of my skin! I feel I can never be without make up, my skin just isn´t fresh and beautiful on its own. I sometimes feel this sad frustration, when I was a baby, a child and even up to until 20 years, my skin was naturally good…so why now as an adult, it seems it is this never-ending “battle” with my skin and the constant need to fix or cover something…why skin for example in the wrists and tummy etc. is good and normal and the face is this desperate mess? 🙁
Hello! Thank your for your great post! I am searching for good skin solutions but I have not found the right one yet.So I have some questions about products,which seems to be natural,but I am not sure if it is safe to use when I have sensitive acne prone skin. One product which I am thinking to buy(called facial water or skin lotion) but still concerned contains: Achillea millefolium (yarrow) Distillate, Salix Alba Bark Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate. Could you please tell me what you think,it is good to use? I also struggling finding the right skin oil for moisturize. I have oil which contains: Vitis Vinifera Seed,Persea Gratissima,Simmondsia Chinesis(Jojoba oil),Tocopherol(Vitamin E),Rosmarinus Officinalis,Pelargonium Graveoens,Citral,Geraniol,Limonene and Linalool. Maybe pure oil(jojoba etc)is still better option than oil with those ingrediences? Thanks in advance!
Hmmm most of those ingredients I’m not really familiar with, so not sure. I personally like keeping it simple and using minimal ingredients, and adding my own in if I want to make it more complicated. I don’t know why but it’s SO hard to find formulated products that are actually pure and healing. I would personally just start with only jojoba oil
The products are okay. The first Contains high preservation synthetics for what looks like no reason but not the worst formulas for the second. It all depends on your skin type and conditions you are trying to repair.
I’ve been struggling with acne for quite some time, but have taken your advice on not using any harsh chemical products on my face. Recently, I have stumbled upon some products that claim to be all natural and are specifically meant for acne prone skin. They are from http://justnaturalskincare.com/, and I wanted to know if these are safe to use on my face? Thank you!
Hi Nicole, they have so many products… if you copy and paste the ingredients of one you’re interested in, I can let you know my thoughts
One specific product I had questions about is their daily acne moisterizer: ( http://m.justnaturalskincare.com/#!/Acne-Facial-Day-Cream/p/50344131/category=13123781 ) It had coconut oil listed on the ingredient list which if I remember correctly, you advised not using in a previous post. So just wondering what your thoughts are! Thank you!
The ingredients look good. You found a true organic product.
Don’t worry about the coconut oil. It is a smaller percentage in the formula as a whole. The varying ingredients should balance out the high fatty acid content of the coconut oil once applied to your skin.
Using Neal Yard remedies face wash with witch hazel toner and moisturizer , and I add a drop of frankincense to it , is it ok ?
Hi there, I can’t really speak to the product itself unless you paste the ingredients… I’m guessing it probably has suspect ingredients in it that aren’t that good for clear skin. But, yes… you can add essential oils to whatever you’d like! Only in a very small amount though… no more than 2% of the mixture
Nyr is very good. It all comes down to appropriate ingredients for each individual skin condition, each person’s exact skin type.
I’ve started using manuka honey and jojoba oil for cleansing/moisturizing, but I’ve been waking up to slightly dry/rough skin the past couple of days :\ Your newer articles about these topics have been really informative and great (esp since my skin is more dry/dehydrated than oily), but I was wondering if you had any extra tips to supplement? Do you think eating more healthy fats and possibly adding a humectant like aloe vera gel could help? I’m considering trying some argan oil to use with the jojoba as well.
Also just wondering, I’ve read somewhere that adding too much oil to your face to moisturize can cause your face to get drier because it thinks it doesn’t need to make as much since you’re applying it, is there any validity to that? Thanks so much for your help! 🙂
Hi Sharon! I would maybe switch to argan oil, jojoba oil is much more suited to an oilier skin type. And yes combine it with a bit of aloe vera gel to increase moisture in the skin… 50/50.. or maybe if your skin is dry, a little more oil than aloe, but not by much. And yes, eating plenty of healthy fats and drinking a good amount of water per day will help some too.
As for your question about does moisturizing make you dependent on it and make you more dry overall…. I don’t know. I have pondered this though because I have definitely experienced that effect with chapstick… the more chapstick you use, the more it makes your lips dry! I had to quit completely because it was getting too crazy haha. Anyway, I haven’t experienced my skin feeling more dry or dependent since moisturizing with my aloe/argan combo
True chapstick is petroleum which will absolutely cause dehydration.?
Try omitting the honey for several days. This is sometimes counter productive for some skin types. Start by taking this out and let me know how it goes. Everyone’s skin is different. I work with over 100 faces a month every single month for 12 years and counting , results are through the roof for skin healing – not once have I recommended not using a moisturizer while the skin is in a repair phase. Only when the skin is one hundred percent functioning is it able to hydrate on its own without external help from topical application. The situation is more complex than this but that is a basic start.
The issue is that nearly everything out there promising skin relief actually causes damage. By going natural the skin may still require additional help to relearn what a healthy function consists of. Starters, give the honey a break from daily use. You may consider a weekly mask with it instead.
This was with all different kinds of natural chapstick.. shea butter, beeswax, essential oils! etc
Thanks for the tip! I’ll try stopping the honey and see how it works – what would you recommend for cleansing? I usually wear 100% pure argan sunscreen and sometimes a natural BB cream/mascara. I’ve been using jojoba oil and Thayer’s alcohol free rose witch hazel on a cotton pad and then Jane Iredale’s magic mitt to wipe anything else off, but was just wondering how you remove products and also any other tips you might be open to sharing beyond slowing down on the honey? Thanks so much in advance!
Great! Thanks so much Tracy I appreciate your response 🙂 I just bought some aloe and I feel like it’s been helping! I’ll try the 50/50 with argan oil
Hi! I have also a question about cleaning face from make-up. Which are the best things to use? I have tried honey,but it made my face condition much worse and since then I have only used not so natural things for it and I feel it dries my face more and more. I also wanted to ask about red acne scars,is there something which really helps? Maybe you have already wrote about those subjects,then sorry for repeating.Thanks! 🙂
The best thing is just oil to be honest… apply a layer of it and if your makeup is particularly tough to dissolve, then let it sit for a bit. Then clean it off with whatever you wash your face with. Then a apply a bit more oil/aloe to your damp skin
Please check her posts about papaya masks. Sounds like a good fit for your skin type. 🙂
This is off-topic, but I remember you said earlier you have quit Estroblock…I’m interested in to know, has your skin reacted somehow to this absense of Estroblock? Do you still continue to use Thorne Sat? Do you know is Thorne Sat safe to use long term (like months, years)?
yes I haven’t gotten into that on the blog yet because I’m writing about all this other stuff, but yes… I did end up going back to Estroblock & Thorne after about three months off it. My skin wasn’t bad while off it, but after this last experimentation it seems to have confirmed it for me.. Estroblock is the only thing that (for me anyway) that has ever gotten rid of the stubborn mildish acne on my chin that comes and goes. A healthy diet and lifestyle and the occasional candida cleanse does the trick to keep the “big” stuff away… using oils to moisturize does the magic trick for my clogged pores (which I am very, very prone to on my forehead). But yeah… ol Estroblock… I couldn’t seem to stay away in the end.
Interesting! 🙂 But aren’t you worried is Estroblock really safe long-term..? It’s started to worry me recently, but I haven’t found any good scientific research about it…
By the way, I go to beauty salon a couple of times a year and they do a treatment with a device called dermaroller. It is very painful…like medieval torture, but results are very good! 🙂 I use it mainly to rejuvenate skin and tired skin under eyes…but last time she said that it helps to shrink pores also. I wonder if this could help preventing clogged pores too? It is actually very nice, it’s totally mechanic, no chemicals or products needed!
Yeah that’s definitely a bit of a concern… I addressed it in this post: https://thelovevitamin.com/18423/addicted-to-estroblock/ – I said: “And yeah I feel a bit weird about the fact that while everything I’ve read says it’s likely fine to take DIM long term, there isn’t actually any long term data on it. So that makes me feel a bit uneasy, but I am currently willing to take the risk (that is totally up to you what you want to do there).”
I’m a newbie, having just discovered you on youtube a couple weeks ago. i love your website! I am curious, are you still doing the caveman thing, or washing with honey/jojoba oil? Which method works best for you? I ditched my “natural” cleanser about three weeks ago and was distraught as to what to do next when I found you! I had raw honey in my cabinet, and figured that would work, but didn’t realize that moisturizing was that important. So right now I’m caught between springing for some jojoba oil or the caveman method (which scares me to death!) Any advice? Thanks so much!
-I’ve also been taking shatavari for about a month and have been cleaning up my diet too.
Can you please describe your skin concerns?
Love the point about using a moisturiser as a way of adding in extra healing ingredients! It’s not just a way of hydration, but a way of extra healing too. 😉
Thanks Charlene 🙂
What di you think about sodium Benzoate, potassium sorbate, limonene,linalool, phenethyl alcohol?
This unfortunately didn’t work out for me. My acne has been under control for years with a simple oil free moisturizer, a clean diet, low stress, and a topical retinoid. I tried this because I wanted something more natural, and had a horrific cystic breakout like I haven’t seen on my face in almost ten years. It’s been two weeks since I ran back to my old products and it’s just now starting to settle down and the scabs from the cysts are finally starting to heal and fall off I used a tiny, tiny amount of organic, cold-pressed jojoba oil since my skin can get a little greasy. I love your blog and I know nothing will work for everyone but I was shocked and disappointed just how badly this went for me. I don’t think I have the nerve to try another oil. 🙁
Just recently made the switch to manuka honey and argan oil for my routine. I’m definetly getting new breakouts but I’m hoping it will pass. When I use the oil at night the following morning I can still feel the oil on my nose and forehead. It’s not shiny or oily looking but I can tell when I touch my skin that it feels a bit oily…is that normal? Should I only be using the oil once a day? Right now I do honey and oil at night and water and oil in the morning.
Make sure to apply it to really wet skin!
Hi! I read the part about when you said it’s possible to use too much. I have a habit of using too much.. is this bad like will it cause me acne and other issues if I use too much or is the only bad thing that could come from using too much that my skin will look oily to other people?
Could be either! Just use one or two at the most and most importantly apply it to very wet skin. (not just damp).